Wednesday, January 2, 2013
MWC must give SDSU first option
By Brett McMurphy
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- San Diego State hasn't officially decided if it wants to return to the Mountain West, but the conference can't invite anyone else before dealing with the Aztecs.
As part of Boise State's contract to remain in the Mountain West, obtained by ESPN, MWC presidents must set the terms of SDSU's return and present an offer to the school before moving on to other schools. The "right of first option" in the contract lasts until Jan. 31, after which time the conference can attempt to invite other schools or stand pat with its current membership.
As part of the terms of the contract, the Mountain West also will pay up to $3 million of Boise State's exit fees from the Big East and Big West conferences.
It's not clear if the MWC even wants San Diego State back after its intended defection, with Boise State, to the Big East. A league source told ESPN Wednesday afternoon "right now the votes are not there for San Diego State."
The source said the Mountain West would prefer Brigham Young. The Big East also sought the Cougars, who left the MWC after the 2010 season to become an independent.
San Diego State and Boise State both formally withdrew from the Mountain West with plans to join the Big East as football-only members on July 1, 2013.
However, Boise State announced Monday it would remain in the Mountain West as an all-sports member.
With Boise State remaining in the Mountain West, the Aztecs' Big East contract allows them to withdraw from the Big East without paying an exit fee if there is no other Big East member located west of the Rocky Mountains.
"I've been in daily contact with officials from San Diego State and we continue to explore the possibility of the Aztecs remaining in the Mountain West," Commissioner Craig Thompson said Wednesday.
In a statement Monday, San Diego State athletic director Jim Sterk said his school has been "monitoring the ongoing changes in conference realignment."
Sterk called Boise State's decision to remain in the Mountain West "a significant change in conference realignment."
"We will continue to evaluate the situation and make decisions based on the best interest of the San Diego State athletic department and the University overall," Sterk said.
Big East commissioner Mike Aresco said Wednesday on the "Tim Brando Show" that his league "very much wants (San Diego State) to stay. They're reexamining the situation."
Sources told ESPN that besides San Diego State and BYU, the Mountain West is considering Houston, SMU and UTEP. Houston and SMU are scheduled to join the Big East on July 1, 2013.
Other than San Diego State, Thompson will not name potential candidates but said his league has had contact with "five to six schools."
League sources said the Mountain West remains undecided whether to expand to 12 or 14 schools.
Other items from Boise State's contract with the Mountain West:
• Boise State must pay $5 million to exit the Big East, but Boise State officials believe there are "provisions" in the Broncos' deal with the Big East that could reduce that amount.
• Boise State's exit fee to leave the Mountain West would be about $2.5 million to $3 million if provided one year's notice. If Boise State leaves the MWC with less than one year's notice, the exit fee doubles.
• Any MWC member participating in a national television game will receive a $300,000 bonus plus another $200,000 if the game is broadcast on Saturday.
• The Mountain West agreed to allow teams in its conference that play in BCS games and the equivalent when the new postseason system starts in 2014 to keep half the money. The rest of the conference will split the other half.
• If the Mountain West has 12 members it will be divided into divisions and a conference championship game will be played at the home of the team with the highest BCS ranking.
• Boise State will be allowed to wear its blue uniforms in home MWC games.
Information from ESPN's Andy Katz contributed to this report.